The thought of losing a pet is heartbreaking for any owner.
Even worse is the idea that their beloved animal friend has been deliberately targeted and stolen from them but, sadly, for thousands of dog owners a year this nightmare becomes a reality.
With police recording more than 4,500 offences involving stolen dogs in the last two years in England and Wales, ethical retailer Pets Corner has put together an owner’s guide to help safeguard your dog from theft and offer advice on what to do if an animal is stolen.
Lucy Ross, animal specialist and head of training at Pets Corner, said: “The emotional impact of losing a cherished pet is profound so if an animal goes missing it can be an incredibly distressing time for its owners. There are a number of things that owners can do to help protect their pet from thieves as well as procedures they can follow if an animal is taken.”
Microchipping and tags
In April 2016 it became a legal requirement for all dog owners in England, Wales and Scotland to get their dogs microchipped. Lucy said: “Microchips are not a replacement for ID tags on collars - legally all dogs need to have both. Having clear identification details on your pet means it can be quickly reunited with its owner should it get lost. Remember to make sure your details are always kept up-to-date and to replace ID tags as soon as possible should anything change.”
GPS dog trackers
“Advances in technology mean keeping track of your dog whilst out and about has become a lot easier,” said Lucy.
“Dog trackers fit to your dog’s collar and use GPS signals to provide live tracking information 24 hours a day. They are ideal when you are out and about on walks or simply want to monitor your dog’s activity.
“Products such as the Dog Tracker Nano will even allow you to set safety zones around your location with audible alerts should your dog wander too far from you.”
Pets in public
Lucy continued: “Avoid leaving your pet alone in public places or cars. If you know your schedule will include visiting somewhere that dogs aren’t allowed, then it is safer to leave them at home.
“When getting your dog out of the car at the end of a journey, make sure they are attached to you by their lead to keep them safe and secure.”
Lost and found
Lucy added: “If your dog is stolen then inform the police immediately. They take all crimes very seriously and will issue you with a crime reference number. You should also contact your local authority dog warden service, local vets, any rescue centres and The Petlog Reunification Service to make them aware your dog has gone missing.
“Share photographs and information about when and where your dog was last seen with as many sources as possible. Posting details on social media and encouraging others to share, contacting the media as well as internet-based search organisations will all improve your chances of reuniting you with your dog.”
If you have experienced the loss of a pet and need help, please contact the Pet Bereavement Support Service on 0800 096 6606.